Letter from the Chair

This year brings a bounty of good news and good happenings to Goodspeed Hall!  We are thrilled to welcome two new faculty members. Augusta Read Thomas, known around the Department as Gusty, has been one of the leading young composers in America and throughout the world for some time, and a great friend of the Department since she arrived in the city to succeed Shulamit Ran as composer-in-residence at the CSO. She starts her association with UChicago in the highly distinguished position of University Professor of Composition. Seth Brodsky, a terrific musicologist specializing in new music, comes to us after five years of teaching at Yale. Together Gusty and Seth bring complementary strengths to the new music program that are reinforced by the remarkable pianist Amy Briggs, who now holds what must be the longest title in the Department, as Lecturer and Director of Chamber Music, Musicianship, and Noontime Concerts and Resident Artist and Artistic Adviser to the New Music Ensemble.  We are delighted that our compositional strengths in new music are now extending to musicology and continuing to grow in performance.

Despite the dreary economy and job markets, we placed graduates this past year in postdocs at the University of Toronto, King’s College, London, and the Freie Universität, Berlin, and assistant professorships at Syracuse University, Indiana University, Southern Methodist University, and Augustana College.  Among faculty, Shulamit Ran is in fall residence as Paul Fromm Composer in Residence at the American Academy of Rome, Thomas Christensen at the Wissenschaftskolleg, and Bob Kendrick at the Franke Institute for the Humanities.  In 2010-11 Phil Bohlman joined the ranks of members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and Marta Ptaszynska had the stupendous honor of winning the prize of the Polish Union of Composers (whose previous winners include Messaien and Stravinsky).  Anne Robertson continues as President of the American Musicological Society.  Our students, meanwhile, have done us no less honor winning fellowships from the Javits, Whiting, Provost, and Fulbright, to name only a few.

We now have no less than three Department-sponsored interdisciplinary workshops (Ethnoise!, Perception and Understanding of Music, and Music History/Theory), plus the Composition Seminar.  Our line-up of fifteen colloquia on the Department of Music Visiting Committee Colloquium Series includes composers Jarek Kapuscinski, Zhou Long and Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon, musicologists Emily Dolan and Richard Taruskin, ethnomusicologists Kip Pegley, Svanibor Pettan, and Rolf Groesbeck, and music theorists Arnie Cox and Judy Lochhead, along with various visitors.

All this is going on as we await the seachange opening of the Reva and David Logan Center for the Creative and Performing Arts, which will afford Music 20 new practice rooms and new spaces for classes, studio work, rehearsals, and performance events, a 474-seat state-of-the-art music performance hall, and above all continual interactions with visual art, theater, poetry, film, and dance.   We are major stakeholders in the new Richard and Mary L. Grey Center for Arts and Inquiry, which has opened this fall to help forge deep connections between the arts and disciplines on campus.

Truly, there has never been a more exciting time for Music at The University of Chicago!   Please let us know if you’re in town so we can welcome you and show you around!

Yours truly,
Martha Feldman

Chair, Department of Music and Mabel Greene Myers Professor of Music and the College